The defence of intoxication is only able to be raised in relation to ‘specific intent’ offences. Specific intent offences require proof that you intended to bring about a particular result. For example, where you have been charged with murder, the prosecution must prove that you intended to kill the deceased.
For other offences, the court can’t consider your level of intoxication in determining whether you intended to commit the crime. However, the court may still take your intoxication into account in determining the sentence or penalty that you will receive.
If you raise the defence of intoxication, the court will consider whether you were capable of forming the intention to bring about a particular result due to your intoxication.
To raise the defence of intoxication successfully, you must show evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (more than 50%) that you:
1. Were intoxicated at the time of the offence
Intoxication can be taken into account irrespective of whether it was self-induced or not. This means that you can raise the defence of intoxication where you consumed the alcohol intentionally, or where, for example, your drink was spiked.
Intoxication refers not only to the effects of alcohol, but also includes the effects of any illegal drugs that you may have consumed, for example ice, ecstasy or heroin.
2. Your intoxication affected your ability to form the intention to commit the offence
You won’t be able to argue intoxication where you intended to commit the offence or bring about a particular result prior to becoming intoxicated.
For example, you won’t be able to raise the defence of intoxication successfully where you planned to murder someone, even though you were heavily intoxicated at the time of the offence.
The judge or jury will consider whether you have presented evidence to show that you were intoxicated at the time of the offence. They will also consider your level of intoxication; that is, the effect of the drugs or alcohol upon you.
If you raise the defence of intoxication successfully, you will be found ‘not guilty’ of the specific intent offence. However, you may be charged and convicted of another offence which does not require the prosecution to prove specific intent.